The Patjeter Project

The Patjeter Project

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rock Climbing, Team Building, Celebrating and Saying Good-bye

Hello from the Cosmovision Center in Athens.
(7/20/11):  This is Kelli and it is Wednesday morning.  Today is our last full day with our Albanian friends and our hearts our beginning to feel heavy.  I think Jeff mentioned that we have been hearing each of the student’s life stories which has certainly enriched our relationships with one another.   We are also learning more and more of the hardships of the Albanian's, their courage and their resolve.   The last two days have been just amazing and busy which is why we haven’t blogged.  I have included a few photos of the Cosmovision facility, George and Fotis Romeos, the two brothers that coordinate this ministry.

George, Kelli, Jeff & Fotis

George and Jeff.  George is wearing the gift from his friend, Scott Drew, Baylor's basketball coach.

Yesterday, we left Cosmovision fairly early and drove about 45 minutes to one of the 7 mountains that surround Athens.  It is called Mt.Parnitha.  We rock climbed on Pera Veraymbisi which means “big rock.” Jeff was a great photographer and I have included some photos of the student’s rock climbing.  After dinner, Sotiris and Athoula Boiklis, friends of George and Fotis, taught us all some Greek dances.  We were all busy dancing so – no photos but it was fun for all!  You may be wondering when we sleep -  we don’t.  OK, good news - more dancing occurred tonight and I caught a few photos. 
Hiking in to the rock site.

Today, the students participated in some team building activities.  David led us in a great session on “Sharpening the Saw” and the students took some time to set some goals for the near future. Tonight we had a fantastic Greek dinner outside prepared lovingly by Mary (Fotis’ wife) and Nafsika.  We enjoyed a breeze and beautiful sunset.  Check out the pictures.  I can assure you that Greek food is delicious and the setting and company made for a delightful evening.  We celebrated the success of the inaugural Patjeter project, those people whose contributions made the progress possible, the Cosmovision staff, the Newells and of course, our incredible students. 
Trust Walk

Working it out - how to create a star from a circle.
Greek dinner

One of the Cosmo Center buildings

What a spread.


The Albanians with Bob and Janice

The Baylor Bears with Bob and Janice

Bob read the following which sums up our sentiment as we near our final morning in Athens.  Tomorrow the Baylor students will leave for their debrief and the Albanian’s will return home. 
“All the hellos I have ever met had something in common.  They have all been carrying something out of sight.  The something that is hidden behind every hello is a goodbye. Every hello that has ever been spoken has had a good bye tucked away somewhere, deep inside, waiting for some moving day or some graduation day or some retiring or relocating or dying day, some eventual inevitable someday when the goodbye that was hidden in the hello will find its way out into the open.
That is just the unalterable, inescapable nature of life. In the entire history of the world, there has never once been a hello that wasn’t carrying a goodbye in its back pocket. And the more that first hello turns out to matter, the more that last goodbye turns out to hurt. Such is the way of life.  The only way to escape having someday to say a goodbye that really hurts is to avoid every saying a hello that really matters. But never to say a hello that really matters means never to know the immense joy of loving your family or having real friends. You cannot anesthetize yourself to the eventual pain of a goodbye that hurts without also numbing yourself to the incredible joy of a hello that matters.”
(Charles E. Poole, The Tug of Home)
During the reading there was not a dry eye in the group.    Relational ministry has that consequence if it’s done right.  The Patjeter Project 2011 was done right.  Mission accomplished, Baylor!

Monday, July 18, 2011

If it's Monday this must be Porto Rafti

Yasas, Y'all!  It's me, Jeff, blogging to you from Athens!  Greetings from your Baylor Missions team! 

7/18/11:  This is our first full day at Cosmovision and (again)  it could not have gone better.  First a word about Cosmovision.  It is a Christian camp near the Athens airport (but not too close) that was established in 1994 by two Greek brothers, George and Fotis Romeos.  It has a soccer field, sand volleyball, a ropes course, dorms and nice meeting rooms.  We have the place to ourselves.  The best part of Cosmovision is the hospitality of our hosts.  These are quality guys.  They are contagious Christians and they love sports.  It's fun talking college basketball with them because they are friends with Baylor's basketball coach, Scott Drew, who has spent time here at Cosmo. 

OK.  now to the update...

We started the day with a devotional.  All the Baylor students and several of their Albanian partners attended.  Chris and Ashton did a nice job leading.  Scripture, music and prayer helped start what turned out to be a very enjoyable day. 

Then, students interviewed each other around their "body maps" from last week at PORTA.

Kisla gets some insight into what makes John so interesting.

Blendi explains some inside information about himself to Olga, who is fascinated beyond words.

Body maps are hung around Cosmovision Center and students are beside themselves, almost literally.

"Active listening" was the leadership principle du jour.  Kelli facilitated several great initiatives such as the trust walk and blind object retrival.  There was a lot of happy students moving around with (and some without) blindfolds.  I wish you could have heard the meaningful comments several students made at the debriefs.  Its so gratifying to see them "get it" on a daily basis. 

This Baylor Missions Trip is all about relational ministry.  We talk about leadership concepts, but our real ministry is the mentoring relationships our students have with their Albanian partners.  If those relationships don't succeed, the mission is not accomplished.  As you may have picked up in previous blogs, the relationships are not only working, they are amazing!  Mission accomplished already, Baylor!

After a tastey Cosmo lunch, it was off to a nearby Greek beach, Porto Rafti.  It was ugly and we had no fun at all.  Check that.  It was indescribably beautiful and we had a ball.  Which is it?   You tell me...:

IMO, the best part of Greek beaches is the landscape surrounding them. 


ryan, eni, david

Emma, Shannon


playing cards on a beach in Greece.  please don't hate us.

Kelli, a frisbee (not pictured), and a beautiful afternoon at Porto Rafti.

Post dinner, Andrew Yarbrough did another excellent presentation, this time on the highly effective habit of "win-win."  I suspect this one was new to the Albanians.  Andrew got the message across well and got a round of applause when done.

Our last session each night this week centers around the life stories of each of the 20 students.  Each gets a mere 5 minutes to talk about their lives, then field questions from the group.  These are great people and it helps to know how they got to be this way.   (Some of you reading this blog had a hand in it and should feel really good about your kid and yourself.)

Let me conclude with a word about how we are addressing our Christian faith here.   Our new Albanian friends, you should know, have not had the advantages growing up in a place where a relationship with Jesus Christ is an option.   These kids don't go to the local Greek Orthodox Church or any other church (with two exceptions) and their parents grew up in a country where God was explicitly denied in the constitution.  So we have to be gentle and sensitive when we mention Christ.  We do mention Him and several of the Baylor students have had wonderful conversations, one-on-one, with their Albanian partners.  Again, this is a relational ministry.  In my humble opinion, its the most effective way to deliver the precious message of God.  Baylor students are doing just that here in Athens. 

Do us a favor.  When this mission trip comes to mind, please pray for us.  We are in the home stretch and good things are still to come.

Thank you!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Live from Cosmovision

Yasas (hello) –
It is Sunday afternoon around 3:45 p.m. and it has been a very busy yet rewarding last couple of days.  I think Jeff left off with some highlights from our game of snort on Thursday, a visit to the Agora and shopping at the Plaka.  I have included some photos of our dinner that night which Jeff referenced.
Chris, Ashton, David, Ryan, Adi and.... 
Caitlin, Emma and Andrew smiling despite their need for immediate sustinance.
Well, not Andrew at this moment, but he was smiling immediately after this photo was snapped.

After dinner, looking up...the Acropolis. 

7/15/11:  On Friday, both Baylor Bears and Albanians visited the Acrocorinth, saw the canal connecting the Sironic Gulf and the Gulf of Corinth, the Diolcos which is a road that has been preserved that was once used to transfer boats and cargo before the canal was in existent and then we concluded the day with a tour of Ancient Corinth.  This was the place Paul visited several times and on the first occasion spent 18 months and where he wrote Romans, Galatians and 1st and 2nd Thessalonians.  At the Bema, we saw the location where he likely stood before the constellate Gallio.  It was a really neat experience.  We also had a wonderful guide name Voula who gave great testimony to the Christian significance of this place. 
the Corinth Canal

ashton and caitlin with a sea urchen at the Corinth Canal

the Diolcos (and Kelli)

starting the climb up the Acrocorinth

atop the Acrocorinth

from atop the Acrocorinth

lunch in Corinth

lunch in Corinth

Blendi reading from Acts 18 about Paul's time in Corinth. 

Adi at the Bema on the spot gave his defense.  the very spot.

at the Bema

ancient starting blocks etched in marble stone

Paul probably had this location in mind when he encouraged Christians to
run the race for an imperishable prize.

7/16/11:  On Saturday, the Baylor team had the day off.  We woke early and took a long bus ride to the Port of Piraeus where we took a 45 minute boat ride on a hydra foil (this type of boat travels very fast) to an Island called Aegina.  We ate lunch and then took another short boat ride to a beach where we found relief from the heat in crystal blue waters or shade.  It was a nice afternoon.   We returned to Athens around 7:15 and ate a fantastic dinner at the home of Janice and Bob around 8:30 p.m.  Knowing that we were missing Mexican food, Janice and Bob had prepared a seven layer dip, Mexican casserole and we had a salad with ranch dressing.  We enjoyed peach cobbler as well. It was a wonderful evening mainly because the Newell’s are wonderful people.
getting tickets for the trip to Aegina Island

on the flying dolphin to Aegina

Aegina Island

Aegina Island
10 pretty fine Baylor Bears after a rough day at the beach.

Dinner at the home of Bob and Janice Newell.
These are great people and gracious hosts.

Ater dinner, of course, the obligatory group shot.

7/17/11:  This morning (Sunday), we visited the 2nd Evangelical Church which is where Bob and Janice and the Followells attend church.  It was a really neat experience.  We sang familiar hymns in English right along with our Greek brothers and sisters who sang in Greek. We had earphones which allowed us to hear English translation so we could understand the preacher.  After church, we took the bus again to Flysvos Marina and ate at T.G. Friday’s. Flysvos is a beautiful marina with quite extravagant yachts and several battle ships.  The marina also has a great view of the Friendship Stadium that was used in the 2004 Olympics.  We are now back at Porta.  At 5 p.m. we will travel to Cosmovision where we be staying until Thursday morning.  We hope all is well at home and appreciate your thoughts, prayers and visit to both the blog and facebook.

before church with Janice Newell

everybody with Bob

Worshipped at the 2nd Evangelical Church, Athens

we heard it in English thanks to a nice lady sitting in a glass booth behind us.

Jeff and Kelli after church

After church dinner at Fridays...

and little Ashton proudly ate this thing.

strolled the Marina, burned off a few calories.

Still in our sunday best, the view from the Marina was really something.

Kyle can tell a story.  Ashton and Shannon are active listeners.

Sometimes it hits're walking in Athens, Greece. 
Emma, Shannon, Ryan and David.

...and sometimes, without warning, a nap takes you to another place.